Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
To navigate this site, use the links above, or the detailed links at the bottom of this page.
... out in the garden.
7th July 2013
There is an unexpected familiarity about summer that fills me with a strange slightly painful nostalgia. Like finding photographs of a long dead dog. The sort of grief that leaves you wanting more.
Walking through my local supermarket car park, a complete stranger struck up a friendly conversation. People become remarkably benign when the sun shines and strange things happen. Then you remember they aren't
strange they are just forgotten. My feet have shrunk. I bought a new pair of size 10 shoes and last week I couldn't get into them (my feet can be a little wayward). This week they fit perfectly.
I was perplexed for a moment until I realised it was summer. Last week I was wearing industrial thickness woolly socks. This week I'm not.
This Disa has bloomed and captured all the lunacy of my thought processes. Several years ago I was left with a large quantity of Disa hybrid seed. I had sown all I could manage, given as much away as I
could force on other people and still had enough to keep an entire Orchid Society stocked with exotic snuff for a year (don't try it, it's probably not good for you).
In the end I scattered it among the Sarracenia pots where it would cause no harm and I wouldn't feel it was wasted. A few came up and you can always be certain that the accidental ones will be the best.
The ones that mean you have to admit it was all down to chance. I was getting quite excited by this one having convinced myself this would be the pinnacle of the Disa-mountain!
In the event, this is clearly Disa Trata. I raised dozens of them just like it that year, all small flowered, slightly creamy as they open and fading to white. Rather like checking the lottery numbers, I put a brave face on it
and laugh inwardly at the scattered shards of broken dreams.
7th July 2013
Bletilla striata 'Alba'
Bletilla are such wonderful things they fill me with enthusiasm. Once they are established in pots they expand and fill them with exotic flowers. From time to time I see them outside in gardens
making great broad leaved clumps dangling rods of magenta flowers like bait for the unwary gardener. In my dream garden I would be hooked every time, like a fish on a free lunch. Two years ago I had plenty of spare plants
burgeoning in large pots and a few of them went out to dwindle like the memory of summer. I have learnt my lesson. They will stay in pots and enjoy the heat of summer in the greenhouse. Another one of those plants
that survives our winters without difficulty but can't face the summer.
The naming of the various clones of Bletilla striata is in a bit of a state at present. I prefer to treat the pure white one as a cultivar ('Alba') until the situation becomes clearer. It has also been described as
B.s var. alba, a name that includes those plants with variable pink markings on the lip. The name B.s. f. gebina is also floating around and seems to originate with
Lindley's description of the species as Bletia gebina in 1847. The epithet has been re-used again and again in various combinations without seeming to produce clarity so perhaps it is best
to let it slip quietly into obscurity.
7th July 2013
I grew up in a part of the country where Dactylorhiza were rarer than good taste or large gardens so I will always find them astonishing. In my first year in this garden I found a couple growing naturally
and mowed a protective circle around them so that they wouldn't be damaged when we removed the hay (it hadn't been mowed for a while). Over they years I have grown a number of species and named forms
and from time to time another one will appear in an unexpected corner. It would be nice to assign them all to their respective species but they hybridise with enthusiasm and the variety of forms
has defeated me. If they turned up in the grass I would still mow around them, but fortunately they seem to prefer the moister parts of the borders and pots with other things growing in them.
This looks like Dactylorhiza fuchsii to me, though I am a little worried (and delighted) by the length of the flower spike and the vigour of the plant. It germinated in a pot containing a Liriope
and the two plants continue to occupy the same space now they are planted out.
7th July 2013
Disa (tripetaloides x Reheat)
Back to the Disa benches, where the promise of the season is starting to open. The new seedlings that flowered last year were interesting but there was nothing outstanding among them. This year there are a few more
coming into flower, and by next year I will have to build a new bench to fit them all onto. In the spring I gave away a few pots of seedlings because I couldn't imagine where they were going to go. Now, I have started to
imagine where they are going to go. It's a subtle but significant change.
Disa tripetaloides is a lovely small plant, cold hardy and vigorous. It has remarkable white flowers and clumps up well. Disa Reheat is a tall modern hybrid with large bright orange-scarlet flowers
on long stems. When I made the hybrid I was hoping for compact plants with small scarlet flowers or taller plants with white large white flowers. The first to open has tall spikes of small pink flowers but I console
myself with the idea that abject failure is the best foundation for success. I was fairly confident that I would have to grow a second generation to get the sort of plants I wanted and this has confirmed it.
The Disa season has hardly started and I am looking forward to next year already. Is it any wonder I forget what summer is like?
To find particular groups of plants I grow, click on the genus name in the table above. Click on the "Index" box at the top of the page for the full list.
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about what is going on, if you are interested.
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